The brand identity

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This answers the question: 'Who are you?'

The brand identity is the next branding element that is developed after the brand concept has been established. The identity of a brand is who the brand truly is and how consumers perceive the brand. In other words, the attributes and identifiable elements that make up the brand and how these are perceived and interpreted by the people that come in contact with the brand. This is the essence of the brand.

The brand identity comprises of the brand personality and the brand image. The brand personality is the core personality traits and characteristics that have been consciously chosen for the brand. It is who the brand has decided to be, how the brand views itself and how it wants to be viewed by others. It is the 'true self' of the brand.

The brand image on the other hand is the way the brand is seen by the people that it is exposed to. The brand image is developed in the mind of the public through their perception of the way the brand projects itself. The image is the consumer's interpretation of the brand personality. Sometimes the image of a brand that consumers see is different from the personality that the brand has adopted or desires to adopt. This means that the internal

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Dior Logo And Brand Concept
Figure 5.1 The Dior logo has evolved from Christian Dior to simply 'Dior', depicting a modern outlook

understanding of the brand (by its employees) is different from the external understanding of the brand (by its consumers). In this case, there is a miscom-munication that requires the brand to re-align its communications.

To further highlight the difference between the brand personality and the brand image, let's use an illustration. When you think about a friend or colleague, certain qualities or 'associations' run through your mind regarding that person. These qualities, which would normally be different for each person you think of, is the image you project of them in your mind through your understanding of their personality. Sometimes this image is correct and at other times it could be wrong through your misjudgement of their personality. The same principle applies in branding.

The personality of a luxury brand is crucial for accurate positioning in the consumers' minds. It should be clear and consistent in order to project the right image to consumers. The brand personality should be memorable and affirmative and also distinguish the brand from its competitors. Brands often lose out on market share when their personality is not defined because consumers are left confused and guessing, which often drives them to seek alternatives. This is amplified among the current clever and demanding luxury consumer group who lack the patience for additional tasks such as 'guesswork' related to a brand's identity. An unclear brand personality often leads to one reaction: 'next, please'.

The brand personality of a luxury brand could be checked against one of the most widely applied models in both business and academic circles, The Brand Personality Model by notable Marketing and Branding scholar, Jennifer Aaker (Figure 5.2). This model uses five dimensions to classify the personalities that brands could adopt. These are further given a set of descriptive traits, against which the personality is tested. The measurement attributes five points to traits that are extremely descriptive of the brand and one point to the least descriptive. Although several additional personality traits exist, this model is useful as a guide in the development of a set of attributes that could contribute to the meaning a brand has for consumers. The traits are shown in the following diagram.

Luxury fashion brands have a unique advantage in the brand personality and image development process because their consumers already perceive them as 'luxury'. This is the reason that luxury brands hardly need slogans or characters commonly found in other goods categories to accompany their brand symbols. The term 'luxury' makes a lot of difference between luxury brands and conventional brands. Luxury is associated with denotative words like opulence, superiority, exclusivity and wealth. This means that no matter what peculiar personality attributes a luxury fashion brand adopts, they also ought to possess a strong element and projection of the 'luxury' and 'prestige' qualities. This implies that selecting the additional personality traits to complement the core 'luxury' attributes should be a straightforward task.

On one level, luxury brands generally share certain brand personality traits

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Aakers Brand Personality

Figure 5.2 The Brand Personality Model of Jennifer Aaker Source: Modified from valuebasedmanagement.net

Down-to-earth, cheerful family-oriented, original honest,real, friendly wholesome, sentimental

Daring, trendy, feisty, cool, young, imaginative, unique independent, modern, contemporary

Reliable, hardworking, secure, intelligent, corporate successful, leader, confident.

Upper class, glamorous, charming, good-looking, feminine, smooth.

Outdoorsy, masculine, western, tough, rugged.

Down-to-earth, cheerful family-oriented, original honest,real, friendly wholesome, sentimental

Daring, trendy, feisty, cool, young, imaginative, unique independent, modern, contemporary

Reliable, hardworking, secure, intelligent, corporate successful, leader, confident.

Upper class, glamorous, charming, good-looking, feminine, smooth.

Outdoorsy, masculine, western, tough, rugged.

Figure 5.2 The Brand Personality Model of Jennifer Aaker Source: Modified from valuebasedmanagement.net such as glamour, reliance, originality and sophistication. On another level, different brands exhibit distinct qualities that make each brand unique. For example, American brand Michael Kors depicts modernity; Gucci has positioned itself with a mix of sophistication and lustre while D&G arouses a sense of excitement and adventure. Burberry on the other hand portrays the English lifestyle much more than Dior portrays the French lifestyle, and so on.

As a further guide, there are three critical features of brand personality and brand image development:

1 A clear and consistent theme in visual and verbal brand communications.

2 Uniformity between the core brand personality developed by the company and the brand image received and understood by the public.

3 A direct co-relation with other elements of the branding strategy, like the brand concept and the brand positioning.

Successful brand personality development does not automatically translate into the desired brand image, however. Brand image as mentioned earlier is based on the abstract form that people attach to a brand. It is the consumer's interpretation of the brand personality. This is achieved mainly through the brand message communications (pictures, images, colours, symbols and so on) or through direct contact with the brand (products, customer services and so on). Consumers sometimes misunderstand or misinterpret brand personalities as a result of an unclear message portrayal on the part of the luxury brand. Luxury brands ought to avoid this common error at all costs.

The brand personality and brand image must be reflected in all the elements of the overall corporate strategy such as product development and product naming as a part of its differentiating strategy. To sustain a brand identity that is unique and resistant to change, a brand must determine its core attributes that make it different from others and promote these as the tools that will enhance its ability to be recognized by its target market. Finally, the golden rules of brand identity creation are:

1 Clarity in personality choice and image projection to the public.

2 Consistency in maintaining the chosen personality and image.

3 Constancy and relevance in the marketplace over time.

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Responses

  • Kalimac Galbassi
    What is a luxury fashion brand?
    8 years ago
  • nuguse
    How to classify luxury fahion brands?
    7 years ago

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